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Job Loss: Questions and Answers

Q: I believe that God will take care of my family's needs. But still, after losing my job, I'm downright afraid. New job opportunities seem scarce. Will He really provide for us?

A: Looking for a job in a tight economy is truly a test of faith's ability to overcome fear. In Genesis 50:24, Joseph promised his brothers that God would take care of them. He was able to make this promise because of the challenges that God had seen him through before.

Q: I was one of the more skilled, veteran workers at our company, but still they "let me go." Is it true that employee loyalty doesn't mean much anymore? Would it have been better to keep changing jobs than to stay with one employer for years?

A: The what-ifs can drive us crazy! Your combination of skill and loyalty is likely to be viewed as a very strong asset when you apply for another job.

Q: Along with my job, I lost the benefit of group health insurance. I can't possibly pay for a private plan when I have no income. What can I do to protect my family?

A: It may be helpful to assume the role of "steward" rather than "protector" over one's family. Everything belongs to God, and we can trust Him to reassign necessary resources at the time they are most needed. Family (including church family) and friends may be moved to assist you in this time of need. Also, organizations such as Samaritan Ministries (samaritanministries.org) offer an alternative way to meet medical needs.

Q: It's been many years since I had to hunt for a job. The classifieds in the newspaper don't offer much, and the online job listings seem to be mostly for high-tech positions. So where do I look?

A: Seek God's guidance daily, and be open to answers coming from unexpected sources, not just from traditional or popular avenues. Keep in mind that you need only one opportunity, not an array of them, to demonstrate your talents.

Q: My wife was supportive when I first lost my job, but mostly she just seems worried, so I feel pretty alone. Aside from trying to chase down a few leads each day and do some volunteering, how can I keep busy?

A: Coming together often in prayer may be the best way to face anxiety as a couple. Helping with cleaning, laundry and meal preparation will also be appreciated.

Q: There aren't many jobs in my area of expertise. Even at mid-life, should I be trying to go back to school, change vocations, etc.?

A: That depends on the Lord's leading in your life. If He is calling you to a new line of work, He will provide the means. But be sure to consider how your current expertise can be applied to other work settings.

Q: We live close to extended family and don't want to move across the country just to get another job. Neither does our daughter, who will be a senior in high school next year. Should we consider a move anyway?

A: Try to be as open as possible. There are increasing opportunities to work from home via the telephone and Internet. If a job move is an absolute necessity, consider the possibility of one parent remaining behind to oversee the home sale and completion of the school year.

Q: I have a lot of skills and experience to offer, but even when I apply for an opening that fits me perfectly, I can't seem to get an interview. Is age discrimination still a big factor in the job market? If so, how do I overcome it?

A: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Contact the Department of Labor (866-4USA-DOL) for more information. Seek honest feedback from others regarding additional factors that may be keeping you from getting, or succeeding in, an interview.

Q: Is it sometimes better to have one's own small business than to look for another large employer? If I decide to do that, how do I get started?

A: There are always risks involved whether you own a business or work for a large organization. The important thing to consider is where and how you can best utilize your experience, gifts and talents. If you feel ready both mentally and financially to operate your own business, you can go to places online like the U.S. Small Business Administration/small business planner section for help in getting started.

Q: My husband just recently lost his job, but already he is deeply depressed about his attempts to find work. How can I help him get through this time? What does he need from me?

A: The best place to start is by simply asking him what he needs from you. Remember that these needs may change frequently depending on his state of mind and mood. He may need a good sounding board one day. Several days later he may not want to talk at all. A week later he may want lots of advice and encouragement. This can be frustrating unless you are prepared for it and realize that it is not unusual.

Regardless, continue to pray for both of you. This job transition is a process of unknown duration, and prayer will keep you focused and anchored along the way.

Q: I have several friends and extended family members who have recently become unemployed. Besides fear, what other emotions and thoughts are they wrestling with? What can I say to support them?

A: Chances are they will be dealing with some combination of anger, resentment, shame and confusion. Insecurity will well up. Personal identity will be questioned as well as self-worth. "How can I support you?" is probably the best way to approach them, as this will vary according to situation and daily emotions.

Q: What are some tangible ways that I or my church should consider being of help?

A: Be sure you are part of a church fellowship where people's needs are openly known and addressed. As a group, decide how to help a struggling person or family pay the bills while unemployed. We are commanded by God to carry one another's burdens.

Q: If networking is an important part of finding a job, what hope is there for a person like me who isn't very good at that?

A: This is where online networking resources like LinkedIn® and Facebook® can be such a help, if used wisely. They are easy to join, and they can connect you with dozens or even hundreds of others who may be able to help, all from the comfort of your own home. Also, networking is another way in which your family and church members can come alongside of you to help. Why should you be watching out for contacts and opportunities alone when so many brothers and sisters could be doing it with you?

Q: I know I was doing valuable work for my company, but by laying me off they've in effect told me I'm not worth anything. I can't help feeling really angry. Is that wrong?

A: Not necessarily, but it's important that you move beyond the anger, forgive anyone whom you hold responsible and look to God for His new direction. As the apostle Paul said, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28, emphasis added).

Q: Losing a job is degrading enough without having to apply for unemployment insurance benefits and let the government oversee my new job search. Should I do it anyway?

A: Think of unemployment insurance as a financial safety net that your own taxpayer money has helped to fund. Tap into it for the sake of your family and your financial stress level. It will help take care of at least some of your expenses while you are looking for your next job opportunity.

Q: I'm a single adult without family nearby to lean on, so I'm dealing with a job loss pretty much alone. Any advice?

A: If you are a Christian, get into a church group where people actually care for one another as Scripture demands. You do have a family, and it's up to them to walk through this valley with you. Also, try getting together with others who lost their jobs at the same time you did.
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